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Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories - ICRC to massively increase aid

27-05-2002 News Release 02/31

The ICRC today launched a budget-extension appeal for 44 million Swiss francs, more than doubling the initial 2002 budget of 35 million for Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories to 79 million francs.

 

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today launched a budget-extension appeal for 44 million Swiss francs, more than doubling the initial 2002 budget of 35 million for Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories to 79 million francs. The activities for which the funds are needed primarily involve a massive increase in aid to civilians living in both rural and urban areas. The existing food-relief programmes for West Bank villages will be expanded to cover 30,000 families rather than the existing 10,000, while aid will be stepped up for some 20,000 families among the most vulnerable in nine larger West Bank towns. Support will also grow for the Palestine Red Crescent's emergency medical service and Israel's Magen David Adom. These changes will require an increase in the number of ICRC expatriate staff to 100 (from 50) and of locally hired staff to 170 (from 110).

ICRC programmes geared to protecting and assisting vulnerable civilians have long existed, but by last March it was clear that larger-scale and some fully new activities were needed to respond to the effects of the spiralling violence. In particular, the military incursions, prolonged closures and curfews, and the destruction of public infrastructure and private property have led to the socio-economic collapse of Palestinian society, resulting in extreme hardship for the population.

The escalating violence in Israel and the occupied and autonomous Palestinian territories since the beginning of 2002 has caused many casualties and much suffering among Israeli and Palestinian civilians. In carrying out its new activities, the ICRC will continue to work toward faithful implementation of interna tional humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, which lays down rules for the protection of civilians in time of war and occupation.

" The ICRC is more than ever committed to protecting the Palestinian and Israeli civilian population, " said Werner Kaspar, the organization's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. " Recent field surveys show that for the West Bank this means a massive increase in aid to those who can simply no longer cope in the current economic and security situation. We appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to do their utmost to facilitate the implementation of these programmes. These are emergency measures, however, and we expect other mechanisms to take over as soon as possible. "

Existing programmes – such as visits to detainees being held both by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, support for hospitals, aid to civilians whose houses have been destroyed and awareness-raising programmes about the danger of explosives in conflict zones – will continue.

  THE BUDGET EXTENSION APPEAL